By JULIAN BELL
It was no surprise that the New England Patriots secured another spot on the big stage after a 13-3 season.
Super Bowl LII will mark the team’s third appearance in four seasons and 10th overall. The big news is that the Philadelphia Eagles will be going up against the Patriots after also finishing 13-3, without their starting quarterback.
The Eagles were o to a strong start with a 10-2 record, losing their only two games to the Seattle Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs. In their game against the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 20, Philadelphia starting quarterback Carson Wentz went down with a knee injury in the third quarter. He left the game and hasn’t played since.
The backup quarterback, Nick Foles, stepped in and finished the game, winning over the Rams 43-35. Foles
started in every remaining game in the regular season, led his team to the playoffs and the rest is history.
On Jan. 13, the Eagles played against the Atlanta Falcons in the second round of the playoffs, after a first round bye week. The game was close and Foles led his team past the Falcons in a 15-10 victory. The Falcons held the final possession in the game and had a solid opportunity to win. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan threw a jump ball for Julio Jones near the edge of the end zone with just seconds remaining. The ball was too high and Jones came down empty- handed. Game over.
The following week on Jan. 21, the Minnesota Vikings traveled to Philadelphia to play the number one seed in the NFC. Minnesota narrowly escaped the New Orlean Saints the week prior after a miracle last play to Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs with 10 seconds remaining. Minnesota edged New Orleans 29-25 in an unforgettable playoff game. The Eagles did not let the Vikings come anywhere near a victory, with Nick Foles leading a 38-7 win and throwing for 352 yards.
The Patriots also lost only three games in the regular season, against the Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers and the Miami Dolphins. Starting quarterback and five-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady has remained healthy throughout the season until recently in the playoffs, when he led his team to a 24-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars with a stitched-up throwing hand. The Patriots had their highest scoring game against the Denver Broncos back in week 10 of the regular season, when the team scored 41 points led by Brady’s 266 total passing yards and three touchdowns.
New England tight end Rob Gronkowski has also remained healthy throughout the regular season until his recent concussion in the playoffs against Jacksonville, when safety Barry Church delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit.
Gronkowski did not return to the game and has since been placed on concussion protocol. He recently returned to Patriots practice, but his presence in Super Bowl LII is still uncertain, according to NFL. com.
Gronkowski is definitely a major contributor to the team and the Patriots would be at a disadvantage without him playing. The question is whether this injury will be enough for them to lose against the Eagles, especially considering that New England won Super Bowl LI last year in a historic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons without Gronkowski, again due to injury.
Super Bowl LII
The Eagles have a unique opportunity to win their first ever Super Bowl against the same team they lost to back in 2005, when the Patriots won 24-21.
New England is also without their wide receiver Julian Edelman, who made a series of game-changing catches in last year’s Super Bowl, and has been out for the entire season on an ACL injury and will sit out for this year’s championship, according to Ricky Doyle of NESN.com.
This is perhaps good news for the Eagles, but they still have wide receiver Danny Amendola to worry about, since he is now the go-to guy for the Patriots’ offense.